Well, it is the Stanley Cup playoffs. So I guess you should expect a couple of overtimes. Read MoreJONES: NHL hub city selection shouldn’t be about more than player safety — Edmonton Sun
Well, it is the Stanley Cup playoffs. So I guess you should expect a couple of overtimes.
The Great Hub City Series of 2020, the battle to co-host all of the games of COVID Cup, keeps getting extended.
We’re at the point now, however, where Edmonton has to be getting a complex.
At this point, you couldn’t be blamed for coming to the conclusion the NHL and NHL Players Association are trying to dodge the one location with the ultimate set-up in order to end up in a sexier city.
Let us review.
Las Vegas is a lock in the U.S. It’s Toronto, Edmonton or Vancouver as the Canadian city.
Hold it. Toronto is out. Their bid has fallen significantly short because they can’t match the safety bubble setups involving hotels and the arena that Vegas, Vancouver and Edmonton will be able to provide. It’s down to Edmonton or Vancouver in Canada to go with Vegas.
Hold it. Vancouver is out. Dr. Bonnie Henry has hit a snag when it comes to who is making the decisions on what happens to the other players on a team if someone tests positive during tournament play.
Hold it. Toronto has reshaped its bid by totally relocating its bubble away from the downtown arena and hotels to the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. It’s now down to Edmonton and Toronto.
Hold it … there’s still too much to get through here and the coronavirus numbers are going way up in Vegas. It’s going to overtime over the weekend, said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly before heading to a New Jersey TV studio with commissioner Gary Bettman to conduct the NHL Draft Lottery.
So what’s this been like to be Oilers Entertainment Group vice-presidents Tim Shipton and Stuart Ballantyne, working their way through this putting all the pieces together, following the NHL wish lists to a T and offering everything Bettman and the league and players required and more?
And that’s complete with working out logical and reasoned logistics with Dr. Deena Hinshaw and her responsible Alberta health team?
I mean, what do they want?
They’re not on the phone asking if they can tweak this or tweak that? Just hold the phone, fellas.
Ballantyne and Shipton had nothing to say Friday and won’t until a decision has been made.
That Edmonton could finish third in this now dog and pony show is laughable.
Housing everybody at the CNE grounds in Toronto and commuting all 12 teams to Scotia Bank Arena for games and around the neighbourhood to practice ice is ludicrous in comparison to the Edmonton set-up.
In Edmonton, the players on all 12 teams would reside in the five-star J. W. Marriott hotel, secure in a bubble that includes an inordinate number of dressing rooms and a practice facility in Rogers Place, complete with a pedway between the hotel and arena.
Other people involved, staff, referees and TV people would be housed, in the first round, in the Delta and Sutton Place, a short walk away, with Edmonton police officers keeping them company to remain secure in the bubble.
I mean, compare the two.
If it’s just about hockey and life in the bubble, there’s no comparison.
How do you now come to the conclusion the league is hoping to trump the ideal set-up in Edmonton by bringing in a long list of other items into play?
• Sportsnet TV is based in Toronto.
• Hockey Night In Canada is based in Toronto.
• The NHL has offices in Toronto.
• The NHL war room is in Toronto.
• And don’t forget the Eastern Time zone.
It would be a lot easier to spread six televised games a day (even if start times are largely irrelevant with no fans in the stands) with one team in the Eastern Time zone and Vegas in the Pacific.
And it’s about Vegas.
Yes, the hotel room set up couldn’t be better anywhere else in the world. But has anybody noticed the coronavirus numbers since they reopened the casinos?
Oilers colour commentator Bob Stauffer has. He’s been keeping statistics on all this back to when the hub cities concept began.
Las Vegas has 12,204 cases (2,754 in the last week.)
Edmonton’s has had 925 total.
Vegas has 408 deaths to Edmonton’s 15 — only three in the last 56 days.
Nevada has 118 in intensive care compared to eight in Alberta and only two of them in Edmonton.
Vegas and Toronto?
If that’s how it ends up, the NHL will clearly have followed the NBA, locating to ESPN’s centre at Disney World in COVID-19 out-of-control Florida, into losing total focus on the main aim here.
If it’s all about player safety — and it should be — if the NHL loses Edmonton as a hub city, the NHL loses.
On Twitter: @ByTerryJones